Metrosideros excelsus
meh-troe-sih-DER-ohs eks-SELL-sus

New Zealand Christmas Tree, Pohutukawa
Myrtaceae (Myrtle family)
Origin: New Zealand, 1840

 

©Street Tree Division
City of Los Angeles - Department of Public Works
Bureau of Street Services

Species characteristics:
Form - Evergreen. Shrubby, round headed, broadleaftree to 30' or more in cultivation. Vertical to spreading.

Trunk - Under humid conditions, may develop numerous red aerial roots which extend to the ground. Bark is composed of gray platelets.

Foliage - Opposite leaves are firm, 1 1/2 - 4" long, leathery, densely spaced on branches. Juvenile leaves are dark, glossy green. When mature they become grayer and shinier on upper surface, with a white wool-like pubescence on underside.

Flowers/fruit - Bright red bottlebrush-like flowers composed mainly of stamens that grow in large terminal clusters in summer. (The New Zealand summer is the Christmas season.) Fruits are woody capsules 3/4" long coated with a white down.

Cultivars - 'Aurea' has yellow flowers, similar foliage characteristics.

No significant pest problems.

Site suitability:

Sunset zones - 17, 23 and 24.

Clearances - Suitable for 5' minimum parkways, medians or cutouts.

Good for street sides, medians, and parks and lawns.

Culture considerations:
Best in neutral to acidic, well-drained soils. Drought tolerant with age. Chlorosis in exceedingly alkaline soils.